Merlion symbol of Singapore

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Maldives

Cameron and Kevin came to Singapore for the Christmas holidays and the three of us headed off to the Maldives. The Maldives had long been on my list of places to visit, but with it being another five hour flight beyond Singapore we had never made it. The trip is more than worth the extra time spent on a plane and the pictures don't do the beauty of the place justice. The country is made up of over 1,000 islands spread over 35,000 square with a population of 300,000 people. With an average ground level of 4 feet above sea level it is the lowest country in the world. All that water, islands and coral make for an amazing place to go snorkeling and diving (which Cam and Kevin have become addicted to). From the airport in Male you are whisked to the lounge to wait for your seaplane taxi to the island. Each island has its own resort so you are pretty isolated once you arrive.
The seaplane ride was 30 minutes over multiple other islands before landing in the water at Landaa Giraavaru an island in the Baa Atoll. We spent two days here in an over water villa; snorkeling, diving and enjoying the beach. It was so peaceful and beautiful, not to mention all the fish that were just off our deck. The bathroom even had a glass floor so you could watch the fish swim by.
Next we boarded the Explorer, a catamaran boat with 11 rooms for a four day cruise of the area. The staff, food and diving were wonderful. There were three dives or snorkeling trips arranged each day, or you could fish, water ski, tube or just hang out. One afternoon they set up a beach day on an uninhabited island and the chef did an outdoor BBQ for dinner. They even dug the table and bench chairs in the sand. It was a lovely evening with more food than even Kevin could eat! The other guests on the boat were from Croatia, Germany, NY and Paris so we were an interesting and eclectic group, all with a love of the water. A highlight of the trip was getting to see whale sharks, the largest of the shark family. Although it eats mostly plankton, when you are snorkeling towards its huge mouth it's hard to convince yourself of this. We were able to snorkel with several of them before they dove into the depths, what a treat. In general the diving and snorkeling were fantastic, I really felt like I was in an aquarium. There were so many different types of fish and all different sizes. Sometimes the current would carry you along like you were on a moving walkway looking through the glass at an aquarium. There were hundreds of fish all around and we often saw turtles and reef sharks as well.

We spent one afternoon at a local island, seeing the village, the school and watching the boys play soccer and the girls play volleyball. It is a Muslim country so the sexes are pretty separated. The little children were the most friendly to the tourists coming through.

From the boat we were dropped off at the Kuda Huraa resort, closer to the capital Male. It was hard getting back to the reality of having many more people around and not knowing everyone. Although it was a lovely resort and the kids enjoyed the swim up bar, we missed having all the amenities so close at hand. Before we knew it the trip had come to an end and we headed back to Singapore.

Waiting lounge to board the seaplane

Seaplanes waiting to take passengers to each of the islands

Our seaplane (the captain wears flip flops)

Flying over one of the island resorts

Another island resort

The infinity pool at our over water villa

Sunset on the beach

Private island for lounging and a BBQ dinner

Umbrella set up on the beach for our arrival

The beach with sand like powdered sugar

Maldivian girls looking a the picture Cam took of them

Our beach villa, back on land

The outdoor shower

The pool and deck of our beach villa

Sunset view

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